Science News of the Year

Science News, December 23, 1989 | Go to article overview

Science News of the Year


SCIENCE NEWS of the Year

1989

Anthropology

* Excavations of the Roman Forum indicated Rome was an urban center in the 7th century B.C., much earlier than many scholars had assumed (135: 20).

* A recently developed dating technique suggested anatomically modern humans inhabited the Near East 100,000 years gao, more than twice as long ago as many previous estimates (135: 263). The earliest known remains of modern humans in southern Asia, dating to 28,000 years ago, were identified on Sri Lanka (135: 388). And an analysis of human teeth from around the world suggested Homo sapiens arose in southeast Asia rather than in Africa (136: 100).

* Anatomically modern humans were estimated to have inhabited southwestern Europe 40,000 years ago, much earlier than previously thought (136: 388).

* Scientists presented evidence from fossil skulls that Neanderthals and anatomically modern humans developed side by side, and interbred, in the Near East beginning 145,000 years ago (135: 229).

* A small bone found in the neck of a Neanderthal skeleton was said to show tha Neanderthals could talk much as modern humans do; the claim was immediately challenged (136: 24).

* Archaeologists discovered a 4,000-year-old Mesopotamian city in the Iraqi desert (135: 198).

* Scientists continued a debate over the Philippine tribe known as the Tasaday, with some anthropologists charging the group is a politically inspired hoax (135: 280), even as new studies supported its authenticity (136: 343).

* An island near Belize yielded evidence of shared cultural practices and trading among Maya settlements more than 200 years after Classic Maya civilization collapsed around A.D. 900 (136: 20). Other excavations indicated that warfare played a crucial role in the demise of Classic-era cities (136: 365).

* Researchers challenged the widespread view of modern hunter-gatherers as a window to humanity's past (135: 264).

* Further evidence emerged that the Sahara once harbored major waterways and attracted human occupation more than 200,000 years ago (136: 138).

* Microscopic analysis of stone blades from Israeli sites indicated small-scale cultivation of cereals began 12,000 years ago, 3,000 years before the appearance of full-scale agriculture in the region (135: 101).

* An archaeologist proposed that status competition leads to historical trends in the way people of diverse cultures are buried (136: 330).

* The director of a 15-year study of baboons in Kenya reported that friendship outweighs fierceness as a means for adult males to attract sexually receptive females (135: 251).

* Excavations revealed that Europe's first farmers, long thought to have existed in tranquil villages around 8,000 years ago, engaged in significant fighting either among themselves or with nearby hunter-gatherers (136: 165).

* Artifacts one of Iron-Age Europe's first cities indicated trade with Rome led to intensified iron production in the 2nd century B.C. and stimulated important cultural changes (135: 170).

1989

Astronomy

* Astrophysicists mapping the location of galaxies discovered the largest structure known in the univese--a long, thin sheet of galaxies dubbed the "Great Wall" (136: 340).

* Astronomers caught a glimpse of a rapidly spinning pulsar at the center of supernova 1987A, then failed in subsequent attempts to confirm their discovery (135: 100). Other observers found additional light echoes (135: 155; 136; 12) and unusual characteristics in the supernova's gamma-ray spectrum (135: 303).

* One team of astronomers identified the most distant object now known in the universe (136: 340), while another found a nearby gas cloud that may represent a budding galaxy (136: 164).

* Astronomers for the first time detected gravitational microlensing (136: 375). …

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